AZ fugitives indicted on capital murder charges

John McCluskey

John McCluskey

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A federal grand jury has indicted two Arizona prison escapees and a woman who allegedly helped them escape on capital murder and carjacking charges in the New Mexico deaths of an Oklahoma couple.

U.S. Attorney Kenneth Gonzales said Thursday that John Charles McCluskey, 45, Tracy Allen Province, 42, and Casslyn Mae Welch, 44, could face the death penalty if convicted. The three are accused in the murders of Gary and Linda Haas, of Tecumseh, Okla., whose remains were found with their burned-out recreational trailer near Santa Rosa, N.M.

McCluskey, Province and Welch face charges of conspiracy to commit carjacking, carjacking resulting in death, tampering with a witness, conspiracy and other crimes.

Prosecutors have said the three targeted the couple at an Interstate 40 rest stop because they had grown weary of traveling and sleeping in a car and wanted to steal the couple's camping trailer. The Haases were taken to a remote ranch where they were shot, and the trailer was set on fire Aug. 2.

The Haases, both 61, were traveling to Pagosa Springs, Colo., for a camping trip. Gonzales has said they simply were "two people on vacation who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time."

Authorities said the three defendants remain in Arizona custody and prosecutors will next seek to extradite them to New Mexico. Welch helped McCluskey, Province and Daniel Renwick escape from the Arizona State Prison in Kingman on July 31 by throwing wire cutters over a fence. The escape sparked a nationwide manhunt.

Renwick, who split from the group, was recaptured Aug. 1 in Colorado. The three others went on a multistate crime spree before Province was arrested in Wyoming on Aug. 8 and McCluskey and Welch were arrested in Arizona on Aug. 19.

When McCluskey was arrested with Welch near Springerville, Ariz., authorities said he expressed regret at missing a chance to kill the U.S. Forest Service ranger who led to their capture. The three face charges in Arizona, including kidnapping, armed robbery and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Unable to locate a getaway vehicle Welch had stashed in the desert, McCluskey, Province and Welch kidnapped two tractor-trailer drivers using handguns Welch had obtained.